If it seems contradictory (read: hypocritical) that former Rep. Dick Gephardt, at one time a self-styled anti-lobbying, pro-labor crusader, would become a lobbyist for Visa and Goldman Sachs, well, that’s because it is. Oh, and you can strike “pro-environment” off of Gephardt’s list of political poses, too. –KA

The Nation:

As autumn sets in, the progressive agenda on which Barack Obama rode to victory last November has stalled, even with Democrats controlling every branch of government. Key aspects of healthcare reform, like a public option, appear dead; climate change legislation, having narrowly passed the House in June, awaits an uncertain fate in the Senate; the Employee Free Choice Act and financial industry reforms have gone off the grid. Behind all these setbacks is a pattern: with little outright opposition, corporate interests have insinuated themselves into the legislative process to co-opt attempts at reform. As a result, the big-ticket items are rotting away, key provisions have been removed and bills are being weakened beyond recognition behind closed doors.

Certainly there are still those in Congress willing to stand up to pressure from lobbyists–like Cummings, who, after meeting with Gephardt and the Goldman Sachs executives, sent his letter anyway, launching an investigation by TARP inspector general Neil Barofsky. But the broader momentum is with the corporate interests, thanks to players like Gephardt who have escorted them to the bargaining table. In a town where everyone seemingly has a price, Gephardt has distinguished himself, selling his reputation as a pro-labor, pro-universal healthcare, pro-environment expert and advocate to his new corporate masters, giving their efforts to kill and maim reforms a familiar, friendly face in the Democratic establishment. As a result, Gephardt has become a highly sought-after and very effective lobbyist. He has also betrayed nearly every principle he once claimed to hold.

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